Friday, July 18, 2014

The truth about Pregnancy 40+ weeks

Let's be honest, there isn't anything that wonderful about being 40+ weeks pregnant.  It's not the end of the world, but it's also not the best.  Here are some of the realities:

1. EG can literally stand underneath my belly and I can't see her at all.  I realize that if you've been pregnant, you stopped seeing your feet sometime around week 30-35, but there's something particularly extra special about loosing your child when she's standing right in front of you.

2. Every single different pain or movement by the baby makes you think you might be in labor.  This kid loves to move, and with it's head down where it's supposed to be, sometime those movements reverberate through my hip bones and around my back- not labor, but don't I wish it was.

3. Sleeping is a thing of the past.  Yes, this happens around week 37 or so for every pregnant woman, but typically you're only dealing with this for about 2-3 weeks.  Now that I'm past 40 weeks, it's been almost a month of not sleeping.  Of course, once the baby comes I might be wishing I had the sleep I used to....

4. Everyone keeps asking.  I'm so so so so so so so so tired of people asking if I'm still pregnant.  Making commentary.  Saying things.  Just leave it alone. Don't you think I'm already tired enough?

5. Everyday feels like it's the one, and then when it isn't it's so disappointing.  It's sort of crushing that you might imagine that something is finally happening, and then it's not.  Each day you wake with a 'is it today' feeling, but then it's not...

6. At least the baby is doing well.  At the end of the day that's the most important thing.

Here's a sneak peak of the photo shoot we did with our AMAZING photographer Laura Layera.  She's absolutely amazing (she's typically a wedding photographer, but she's done three sessions for us so far, and I know we'll be doing a 6-month session with B2.  I stole the photos from our viewing session, so they aren't the best quality, but I couldn't help but share.

All of these photos are copyright by Laura, but I did want to share their beauty- it makes it better to be 40 weeks pregnant when you realize that it's okay, and you look fine, and then you remember that the baby will come, in it's own time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Minor Projects

I've been busy working on lots of little things around the house- you know what I'm talking about, those little projects that you've had on the list for a while, but never seem to get quite done.  Since I've been basically just sitting on the couch daily (between groin pain and indegestion, it's been a rough week 41) so these little projects have really helped me through it.

The first project I'm going to show you is actually a wall calendar I made for everyone for Christmas/Chanukah.  I made one for my mom, sister, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It's a really easy and fun project, and can include any kind of celebration you'd like.  I really like that it's interactive, so it's so much easier than looking through a book to remember important dates.

There are really only two components.  The first is the plaque sign, which I've decorated with the word CELEBRATE.  For my SIL I made it blue and white, for my mom it's white and black.  My MIL got one that was more natural colored.  You can do anything you want- some people just put Birthdays- but my plan is to add anniversaries at some point...

 You can buy the piece at Michaels or Jo-Anns, and it's not that expensive.

Then there are the circles- I bought a TON of them on Amazon. These are about 1.5" wide, which I found to be perfect.  With them there's enough space to write the names, and the date, and still have it look really good.

Then you need these little metal rings to connect the discs together.  These are really easy to get, and pretty cheap.

I drilled a small hole in the top and bottom of each disc, so I could attach them together.

Here's the final product:

The other thing that I've been working on is a small spot to put my jewelry in the bathroom.  I don't know about you, but I take my jewelry off before I take a shower.  Even if I don't take a shower, I almost always get undressed in the bathroom, that's where the laundry basket is, isn't it? 

So I took an old shelf that I've had since college and added a few open rings for the necklaces to hang off of.  It looks great for the hanging section- and I'm totally happier with the space I've gain back on the counter-top.

I think I need to add a little bowl or some type of small item on the top of the shelf for rings, and earrings, but it's been working really well so far!  easy peasy project!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Converting a child

I was doing my weekly reading on a variety of sites this morning and came across this interesting article about the challenges of converting a child to Judasim.  I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the author's concerns and felt like while some may be true, others are totally off base in my opinion.

Let me be clear that EG is not a converted child.  I am a Jewish mother, therefore EG is born as a Jewish child.  However, I have experience in being a converted child myself, since my Mother wasn't born Jewish and converted after I was born.  So, technically I'm a Jew by choice myself.  A choice my parents made for me when I was just around 5-7 years old.

I remember my conversion in great detail. I remember going to ttemple that day to have my mom talk to the Bet Dien. I remember going to the beach to go into the water- my mother, my sister and I.  My dad came in with us, to support and encourage us.  I remember being the first one to dive in, with the Rabbi on the beach. 

When I was in college I was considering moving to Israel, but was concerened that I wouldn't be able to get married, that my conversion may not have been considered halachically valid, so I contacted the Rabbi who oversaw our conversions (Rabbi Artson, now at the AJU) and chatted with him more about what the process was like, and how it was validated.  I know that there are some both here and abroad that will never recognize our Conversative Converstion- despite the Torah teaching that those who convert are to be treated the same, but generally, I feel good about my religious identity.

When I read the article about  converting your children, I can't help but be saddened by some of her experiences.  Her first point about converting a child with their own religion is spot on.  Nothing to be said about that.  It's definitely possible as a child to take an interest and to claim a religion outside of your parents, and converting a child against their will won't end up being the right thing, nor, I believe, halachically valid.  

However, point number two I have more trouble with.  I resent the idea that the children will never be accepted by their Jewish peers.  There are so many people with so many different backgrounds in my Jewish life.  There are many who come from blended families, some who are Jewish on both sides, and I don't think for a moment that any of them think less of us because of our families background. 

I don't think that I've felt 'like an outsider.'  Many of the things she complains about are also true of people who move across the country.  I was born on the East coast, but moved here to CA when I was in kindergarten. So no, I couldn't have been the great-granddaughter of a member of this temple.  And no, I couldn't have known the other Jewish kids since birth.  Does that matter?  People move all the time, and not fitting in likely would have less to do with your religious background, and more to do with your personal history in the area.  Did I fit in fabulously with my class?  No, but I think that was more because this religious school was more advanced than mine, and I skipped all of 5th grade so I could bat mitzvah on time.  Do we always fit in everywhere?  No.

I feel sad that she thinks this is a primary problem- fitting in.  There are Israeli's I know at school who don't understand some of the yiddish references, or the Americanisms.  Does their child 'not fit in'?  She's my daughter's best friend!

Point three is an interesting one, and one that I really struggled with getting Working Dad to understand.  That there is a fundamental difference in being the minority in a majority Christian country.  That by marrying me, having children with me, he was creating a world where people who liked him the day before our wedding, would dislike him the day after.  That there would be people who would literally hate our children just for being born.  That I was asking him to take that on as part of our marriage.  And that was hard.  But I also think she misses the point.  Every Jewish family might have to deal with moments of stereotyping, discrimination, etc.  But so does my sister-in-law, who gets flack for having 6 kids.  So does my sister for being interracial.  We all have to stand-up to idiots and bullies. 

Point number four makes me sad for her.   And it's a fear I have for our own little EG.  I don't think there is someone in our family in particular, but I worry about her each Easter, when some insists that she eat pie or chocolate with corn syrup.  I worry about someone from our extended family wanting to save her soul.  But the truth is that this wouldn't have any effect on our being a Jewish family- we'd be right where we are regardless.

I hope the author has grown to feel loved, accepted, and happy in her judaism.  If she's writing for Kveller, then it seems she has.  But I also want to make sure that her perspective hasn't turned away another family from converting.  If it's the right thing for you, then it's the right thing for you.

 Dear EG running up and down the aisles of synagogue, much like I did when I was young.  However, we don't know that we'll be going to this synagogue forever.  We might move when she's five or six or ten.  Then all of the things the author worries about will be true- she'll be the new kid on the block...

Here she is with one of the Rabbi's sons.  Playing,enjoying together.  Never has she or I felt like we didn't belong, like we couldn't engage or interact with those of different levels of religious identity. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Surviving a 'Non-Stress Test'

It seems that they are ironically titled 'non-stress' tests, since they can actually cause a lot of stress for a pregnant woman.  However, in medical terminology, it's called a 'non-stress' test because they want you to be at rest, and are monitoring the baby when it isn't stressed, unlike during contractions when it will be 'stressed.'

If you've gotten to the point of NST's in your pregnancy you are likely either past term, or having some sort of complications that they'd like to monitor more frequently. 

What happens during an NST?
They will check the fluid around the baby to make sure that it has enough aminotic fluid with an ultrasound.  Likely they will measure at least 4-5 different spots around the babies body.  They will take your blood pressure to check for pre-eclampsia.  Then they will hook you up to two different monitoring belts, one for the babies heart rate, the other to monitor babies movements, or for any contractions.

Why do they do NSTs?
An NST is scheduled to get a more invasive look at the baby than what would happen at your usual doctors appointment. Since the test is longer, they can check how often the baby is moving (they typcially want it to average ten times in 2 hours) and how your body is doing after your due date has passed.

How often are they scheduled?
This can really vary by hospitals, but typically the results of an NST are 'valid' for between 3-5 days.  It is my opinion that every 4 days is often enough, especially if you don't experience any other kinds of changes or negative symptoms related to your impending delivery.

So, now that we know what an NST is, what can you do to be better prepared for it?

1. Bring the following: Water, a book, and a blanket.  At this stage in the pregnancy game you likely have your water bottle with you all the time, but I think it's especially critical to have it during these 'tests.'  It can ease your nerves to take a sip, so make sure you have it with you.  As the test can run anywhere from 30minutes to an hour, a book is a nice thing to have. You may just decide to rest and sleep a bit, but I think a book is a good option as well.  The most critical thing, however, is the blanket.  These rooms are cold- partly to help make the baby move, and partly because it's a hospital space like all the others.  A blanket can totally mean the difference between an enjoyable experience, and misery shivering.

2.  Eat something the baby likes before you get there.  They want to know that the baby is moving, and while they have things that they can do at the hospital to encourage movement (eating ice, noises next to the baby, etc.) it's easiest on you if the baby is cooperating.  Maybe have that nice chocolate snack that makes the baby kick, or schedule your appointment when the baby is active. 

3. Remember that it's just about data.  This isn't a definitive test- and it's non-invasive, meaning that it's just recording something happening.  The nurse has certain data that she is trying to collect, and all you need to do is relax to provide it. 

4. Shower before you go.  This seems odd, but it can be possible that they may decide not to let you leave the hospital.  The most likely reason for that would be low amniotic fluid, which can be serious.  However, regardless, showering before you go will ensure that you get to shower, just in case you end up staying.  This sort of goes hand-in-hand with bringing your hospital bag, which I don't advise.  Personally, I think you leave the bag at home.  If they make you stay you'll need to call in the troops anyways, and I also think that it's nicer to come home, get your stuff, then go back the hospital if possible.  If they discover something in the NST that means you need to stay, it's most likely not so serious that a quick trip home to pick-up supplies is out of the question. 

5. Wear something easy to move in.  You will be lying in a bed, and will have to have your belly exposed (hence the blanket).  I recommend that you wear something easy, like a tank-top, and wear a zip-up too, since you can have that covering your arms after your blood pressure reading. 

These are my tips and tricks for NST's.  Here I am, just before mine got started.  My next one is scheduled for Thursday.  Anyone out there also having NSTs?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Love in the little things

We've been married now for 4 years, and yet I'm still astonished by how much the little things matter.  Now that EG is two, it's amazing how perceptive she can be, and how much little actions can make huge impacts on all of us.

It's that when I come to bed he's pulled back the covers for me, gotten a towel for my wet hair, and made the room nice and cozy.

It's that when I tell her I'm tired, she brings me to my bed, tucks me in, says 'night night mommy- I close door now.'

It's that when she accidently steps on my toes, and I say ouch she asks if I need ice or a blanket.

It's when I'm totally exhausted he takes her to the grocery store, so I can sit, relax and rest just a little bit longer.

It's his planning his parents to babysit, choosing the movie he knows I'll like, despite the fact that it's his birthday and the day should be about him, not me.

That each time he goes to Trader Joe's with her the two of them pick out flowers for mommy- beautiful arrangements that adorn my kitchen over the week.

With all the people we know we are getting married, getting engaged, and having babies all I can say is that it's the little things that count.  Never forget that.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Over Shabbat this weekend, I became an Aunt again.  Welcome to the world little LB!

We are so excited, so blessed to have you join the world, the right time, loved and supported.

I know your older brother J couldn't be more excited or happier to have you, and thank G-d that you, and Mommy are were both safely and soundly delivered into the world.

I can't wait to meet you.  EG is so sad that we're not jumping in the car immediately to see you and your brother.  In her mind you are J's baby.  She sang you the happy birthday song.

She's right- HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

7/12/2014.  7lbs 12oz.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

B’sha’ah tovah

Updated and modified from Derekb cc
Yes, I'm still pregnant.  And as any woman who is waiting for the natural delivery of her child knows, these last few weeks when you are near your due date can be amongst the most stressful.  Not only are you trying to ensure that you are really ready for said child to arrive, but you are also constantly facing a barrage of well intentioned but stressful inquiries about whether the baby has arrived.

So, I say we all take back the Jewish tradition of B’sha’ah tovah.  At a good hour.  May the baby come at the time that is right- for G-d, for you, for the world.  Not because you've called me for the 6th time.  Not because 9 months ago some ultrasound technician claimed it would be today.

Because it's the right hour...

As I wrote in my post yesterday, being at the end of pregnancy is a scary place to be anywhere, with each twinge of the baby a possible sign of something.  The constant pressure we get from friends and family about what's happening often adds to the stress.

But where does B’sha’ah tovah. come from?  It's not in the torah proper, but rather found in the misdrash commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes.  It's taken from the verses in Ecclesiastes (which you probably all know), as a commentary on the fact that only G-d knows the right hour: 

"A time to be born, a time to die" as it says, and as many a famous song has been written.  

And honestly, I'm pleased with the idea.  As I've discussed with EG's birth, it was stressful and scary and I'm not sure that I'm really ready for this baby to come.  I have a deep seated fear that maybe this time we won't catch how much blood I've lost by 9am.  Maybe this time, despite being in America with good healthcare at the hospital, they might miss something.  Giving birth isn't a walk in the park- it's serious business.

At the same time, I try to remind myself that my body was made for this.  That G-d made the world, and in his wisdom and creation of it he gave women a position that men don't have: the creation of human life.  That for the last nine months I've been blessed to have been creating eyes, and lungs and ears and a teeny tiny nose.  And that when the baby is ready, and G-d is ready that this living being will enter the world.

Ecclesiastes is actually a great portion to read before going into labor.  A bit of an oddity with both signs of great wisdom and interesting contradictions, there are many pearls of wisdom.

So today, I also say to sisters B and K these G-dly words of wisdom:

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2:1-2:2

Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.
A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted. 

Chapter 2:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time; also the world He put into their hearts, save that man should not find the deed which G-d did, from beginning to end.

**I realize that these verses are often referred to as Ecclesiastes 3:1 in the New International version.  I've taken these notations from a Jewish source, rather than the King James sources**

Special thanks to this Grandma- for knowing the time will come...

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